Opinion: No Charges Filed in Hillcrest Terrace Neglect Case

By KBJR News 1

Opinion: No Charges Filed in Hillcrest Terrace Neglect Case

May 8, 2013 Updated May 8, 2013 at 11:53 AM CDT

Chisholm, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- No charges will be filed against an assisted living facility in Chisholm accused of neglect after a man was found unconcious in filthy living conditions at the facility.

The St. Louis County Attorney's Office announced Wednesday that the conduct involved in the substantiation of neglect at Hillcrest Terrace did not rise to the level of criminal neglect warranting formal criminal charges.

The Minnesota Department of Health cited Hillcrest Terrace for neglect in April after a disabled man was found unconcious in room full of urine and mold.

Read Mark Rubin's Full Opinion Piece

Former Vice President and Minnesota's own Hubert H. Humphrey is often cited for reminding us that "... [t]he moral test of government is how that government treats those that are in the dawn of life, the children; those that are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped."
For those of you who are lucky enough to still have your elderly mom, dad and grandparents with you, I know you believe we need to do all we can to assure their comfort and safety. The same care we would provide for our own family is the standard of care that we expect all of our citizens, especially the elderly, to receive.

We have facilities with caring people to do what we are not able to do, in the form of assisted living facilities and nursing homes.

One of the responsibilities of the Office of the County Attorney is to review reports that are submitted from the Minnesota Department of Health regarding their investigation of reported cases of neglect or abuse in health facilities. These reports document situations where the level of care may have been found to fall below what is right and owed a resident.

I have received and reviewed the reports from the Minnesota Department of Health regarding Hillcrest Terrace in Chisholm. These reports document and substantiate a finding of neglect of an elderly gentleman who was and continues to be a resident of Hillcrest Terrace. The finding of neglect is in and of itself a public finding. A subsequent similar finding could result in licensing ramifications for the facility. Our Public Health and Human Services Department has followed up on the matter, visiting the facility and talking with the gentleman in question. Our PHHS Department has determined that neglect conditions have been addressed and has recommended no further action needs to be taken at this time to assure the comfort, well-being, and safety of the gentleman.

The matter was submitted to the Office of the St. Louis County Attorney for information only. It was not a request for criminal charges. The conduct involved in the substantiation of neglect did not rise to the level of criminal neglect warranting formal criminal charges. Our interest is seeing to it that the health care facility not only addresses the immediate concern, but takes measures to see that no one else would be subject to a situation that would result in another finding of neglect. We are satisfied this is the case with Hillcrest Terrace.

In the investigation and ultimate reporting of these types of matters, it is important to recognize that there is an obligation to respect the dignity and privacy of the resident and always be mindful of the need for fairness toward the people who work at and run these facilities.

The public needs to understand that we have a common entry point for reports of neglect or abuse of vulnerable adults. This common entry point is maintained by St. Louis County and takes in all complaints regarding maltreatment or neglect of vulnerable adults. In fact, this very case started with a call to St. Louis County: 218-726-2164.

I want to encourage anyone with any concerns for the care and well-being of our elderly and vulnerable citizens to make sure to know the number to call and have the confidence that all matters will be addressed with everyone's best interest in mind.

Posted to the web by Raeanna Marnati